5 co-authors signed Senate report on BBL unconstitutionality

Angela Casauay

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5 co-authors signed Senate report on BBL unconstitutionality
How has support for the proposed Bangsamoro basic law changed since it was filed at the Senate?

MANILA, Philippines – When the proposed Bangsamoro basic law (BBL) was filed at the Senate on September 2014, 13 senators signed up as co-authors of the measure. 

The number meant that the bill would have the support of a majority of the 24-member chamber, ensuring its passage.  

The original authors of the bill include: 

  • Franklin Drilon
  • Vicente Sotto III
  • Alan Peter Cayetano 
  • Loren Legarda 
  • Ralph Recto
  • Juan Edgardo Angara
  • JV Ejercito
  • Nancy Binay
  • Francis Escudero 
  • Paolo Benigno Aquino IV
  • Pia Cayetano
  • Gregorio Honasan 
  • Teofisto Guingona III

Eight months later, the arena changed as the peace process reeled from the political fallout that ensued following the Mamasapano clash and persistent doubts over the constitutionality of the BBL. 

The positions that senators have taken over these two key issues show how support for the BBL moved over the past months. 

Soon after controversy over the clash in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which killed 67 Filipinos, erupted, two senators withdrew their support for the measure: Cayetano and Ejercito. Cayetano has since become the most outspoken legislator against the law and against the peace panels that negotiated for it.

Except for Drilon, all 12 of the original BBL co-authors signed the Senate Mamasapano clash report of Poe. At least 20 senators signed the report. Aside from indicating the results of the Senate probe into the firefight, the report concluded that the proposed BBL was unfair to the government

The co-authors who signed Poe’s report are: Sotto, Legarda, Recto, Angara, Binay, Escudero, Aquino, Pia Cayetano, Honasan and Guingona. Alan Cayetano and Ejercito also affixed their signatures.

Of the 13 original BBL co-authors, all 6 senators who are members of the constitutional amendments committee signed the report of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago deeming the proposed law as unconstitutional for creating a substate. The report was a product of two hearings with constitutional experts and proponents. 

The BBL co-authors who signed Santiago’s report are: Recto, Angara, Escudero, Honasan, and Guingona.

Alan Cayetano also affixed his signature. 

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, meanwhile, signed both reports on Mamasapano and the constitutionality of the BBL. Marcos chairs the Senate committee on local government, the main committee tackling the bill. 

The number of BBL co-authors who agree that the BBL gave too much to the MILF and is unconstitutional sets the stage for major amendments of the bill in the Senate.

The House of Representatives only introduced individual amendments to some features of the law but retained the most important aspects of the proposed autonomous region on the form of government and funding.

Santiago’s report, meanwhile, declared these same aspects as unconstitutional and objectionable. 

Santiago said the parliamentary form of government proposed under the BBL, where powers were categorized as those exclusive to the Bangsamoro, those reserved to the national government, and those shared between the two, was unconstitutional. 

The Malacañang-convened Peace Council led by former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, has  meanwhile, argued that the BBL is constitutional and does not vest statehood to the Bangsamoro parliament. 

Santiago also took issue with provisions designed to raised the capacity of the Bangsamoro parliament to raise revenues. Under the BBL, the autonomous region is designed to get automatic funding similar to the internal revenue allotment of local government units. 

Ejercito, in a tweet posted on Thursday, said he would have signed Santiago’s report had he been a member of the committee. 

Following the release of the Santiago report, Drilon admitted that the Senate will no longer meet the target deadline to pass the BBL before Congress adjourns on June 11.

A product of the peace deal between the government and the MILF, the BBL seeks to entrench a new autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao with greater powers and resources in a bid to end close to 5 decades of armed conflict. Rappler.com

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